Basha Cohen with contributions from Nancy Olsen and Rob Ford
NORTH DENVER — The events at Standing Rock represent the largest gathering of Native Americans in recent history. They’ve come together, along with many allies, in unity to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline in order to protect not only their community’s drinking water, but also the drinking water of millions downstream, and to protect their sacred land as noted in the Fort Laramie treaty of 1851.
This current struggle highlights many of the pressing issues of our day that need to be addressed, not only at Standing Rock, but throughout our country including Racial Justice, Indigenous Sovereignty, Human Rights, Eminent Domain abuse, Stewardship of our environment, Transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, Excessive corporate influence on local law enforcement, Militarized police and Absence of mainstream media.
A group of committed North Denver residents and City officials including Dan Pabon, Rafael Espinoza, Amanda Sandoval, Paul Lopez, Deborah Ortega, Rudy and Nita Gonzales, are banding together to support their native brothers and sisters on November 19 and 20.
The community action will build solar trailers to support the Standing Rock Camp in North Dakota. There are thousands of people at Standing Rock from over 300 tribes including indigenous people from all over the world and they are readying for winter camp. The plan is to deliver them the first week of December as time is of the essence.
An education and awareness event, “Standing Together with Standing Rock,” is scheduled on Saturday, Nov 19 from 1-4pm in the new Little Man Ice Cream facility at 4415 West Colfax. A panel of Tribal leaders and community educators will explain the current situation to better inform the appropriate actions to help. The solar trailer building process will begin, and the community is invited to observe and participate.
A GoFundMe account has been established to raise money for the cost of building the solar trailers. Each unit is roughly $ 2,300, which is four to five times less than what they would be on the market. Currently, the group has received enough donated solar panels to build five trailers. The first build will tackle two.
They will continue to build them as more funds are raised.
Rob Ford, one of the group’s leaders, is a long-standing professional in the solar industry and has designed the units as well as secured materials at highly competitive prices, at cost, or through donation and will continue to sustain acquisition at these rates.
The units are self-contained, weatherproof, easily moveable with normal cars, light enough to keep from sinking as mud and frost cycles begin, will serve as charging stations for the invaluable tools of communication for the people, and are the next step in functional power distribution representing a change in how we relate to energy. They are designed for the most common needs of electricity in the camps (cell phones, laptops, lighting, small heaters).
Due to the chronic red tape and obstructionist actions for having supplies delivered to the reservation, the team has partnered with David Archambault Sr., father of the Standing Rock Sioux Chairman, who confirmed that these solar units would be very helpful to their cause at camp. He will help direct their smooth delivery.
Nancy Olsen noted, “We are thrilled to be able to contribute to this important infrastructure for the people at Standing Rock and beyond. We know these solar panel trailers will continue to be helpful on the frontlines of other struggles into the future.”
Another team member, Jennifer Wolf, who was raised on the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe reservation in Wisconsin, is deeply entwined with the community in Standing Rock and in Denver. The heart of this fight is about protecting water. We need water to survive. Water is life, and it has no skin color. Countless arrests, however, have turned this basic need for water into an extreme violation of civil rights.
Wolf’s cousin, Red Fawn Fallis, a staunch water protector, was recently arrested in Standing Rock facing the charge of attempted murder. A press conference was held on November 7 at the Four Winds Indian Council. Although the North Dakota Sherriff was reported to have said that no shots were fired, her arrest has not been dismissed and the bail set at $ 100,000 has made it impossible for her to leave the jail.
Glenn Morris, Associate Professor and President’s Teaching Scholar, at the University of Colorado, Denver, and a Harvard-trained attorney is a staunch advocate for defending Red Fawn and those at Standing Rock. He said,
“We insist and demand fair and due process for Red Fawn. Trials like this are not new to us. After Wounded Knee, hundreds were put on political trial. We know how to put the real politicians on trial. We take this extremely seriously. We intend to ensure that Red Fawn has the most qualified, competent and assertive representation in the US. We intend to vigorously defend our daughter, niece, mother and friend.”
Nita Gonzales, Principal of Escuela Tlatelolco, spoke on behalf of Red Fawn.
“We stand in solidarity with Red Fawn. We are proud of Red Fawn who has grown up to be someone our children should look up to. She stood up for her people. The only thing Red Fawn is guilty of is having the courage to stand up. She is a loving person who cared for her mother and everyone around her. She was willing to be there to support the cause and to give her last dollar. In the Chicano community, she is our heroine and I am proud of her.”
Wolf reflected, “With the current election results, and subsequent peace rallies and protest marches, many are recommitting themselves to stand up for their fellow man. Safety pins are a nice thought, but here’s a chance to roll up your sleeves with your neighbors for immediate impact.”
Stand together with Standing Rock by joining the cause Saturday, November 19. To donate: https://www.gofundme.com/standingrocksolartrailers
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